Why Canon Sucks!

This site is dedicated to letting the world know why Canon (specifically Canon Business Solutions -- a subsidiary of Canon) really sucks, why I will never buy another Canon product for the rest of my life, and why, if you're considering dealing with Canon Business Solutions, you should think twice before doing any business with them.

Let me explain...

My name is Nick (contact me) and I am the founder and partner in a small printing business in San Antonio, Texas. We use mostly digital presses to produce in-house commercial print jobs such as flyers, business cards, brochures, catalogs and much more. These digital presses usually come on a pay-per-click lease with what's called a "click charge" for every print put through the machine. It doesn't matter if you print on small sheets of paper, large sheets of paper, print just one tiny dot, or print covering the entire sheet in solid ink, you still pay the same click charge for every single print put through the machine. In return, your supplier (in this case Canon Business Solutions -- otherwise known as CBS) is supposed to furnish you with all consumables and full service maintenance on the machine.

To put this into perspective, this would be akin to a car dealer offering you a brand new vehicle on lease, where you pay the dealer $x per mile driven, but in return, they provide all the gasoline and full maintenance on the vehicle. This is how a typical digital printing press/copier deal is structured.

After being a customer of Xerox for some time, we were in the market for a new small machine and contacted Canon Business Solutions to ask about their machines. After deliberating between another Xerox or going with a Canon machine, we took the plunge with a Canon ImageRunner Advance C7065 for a couple of minor reasons.

The Canon sales girl (Carrie Thaxton) visited our office several times before we signed up. I also went to see a demo of the machine at another local business where I met with her sales manager Joe Short. Carrie and Joe knew we were in the print-for-pay business and knew exactly the kind of work we were doing for everyday clients and touted the C7065 as being the perfect fit for our operation. We agreed on the "click charge" and Carrie prepared the paperwork to get the deal through.

A few days later, Carrie showed up at our office with the contract. Before I had chance to read it, she announced that she had managed to get us an even lower click charge. Great! I duly read over the small print, signed the contract and was eager to get the new machine in.

The very next day, I discovered that Carrie was no longer working for Canon Business Solutions! No warning, no indication that this was going to happen! So now my only sales contact was Joe Short, whom I proceeded to retain a rapport regarding delivery and installation of the new machine.

We finally received the ImageRunner Advance C7065 in August 2010 and proceeded to use it for many of our day-to-day operations. However, within the first few weeks, we had to call in service several times for one reason or another. First, the drums had to be replaced because, apparently, they weren't lasting anywhere near as long as the manufacturer had speculated. Second, the machine was leaking toner onto the edges of the printed sheets.

We lived with these quirks and continued to use the machine. By November, when I called to order more toners for the machine, I was told we were on the "toner watch list". What does that mean? Apparently, some unscrupulous CBS customers order in more toner than they really need (under their pay-per-click agreements) and then sell the excess on ebay or elsewhere to make a tidy profit. In other words, we were being accused of selling their toner on ebay because they felt we were using too much.

I contacted Joe Short at CBS and asked what could be done to get us off this damned toner watch list. "No problem!", he said. "I'll come around and photograph your empties to prove to my bosses that you're not selling it."  OK great! So Joe comes around and takes photos with his cell phone to send onto his bosses. At that point, Joe tells me the only person that can get us off the toner watch list is his VP.

A few days later, Joe calls me and tells me his VP won't take us off the list and that we're going to have to start paying retail for toners on top of the click charges that we're already paying! What the fuck!? So we're now having to pay CBS double for using this damned machine that we've only had in for 3 months? I then email Joe Short and ask him who this mysterious VP person is so I can contact them directly. I get no response.

At this point, we have customers coming out the kazoo wanting their print jobs doing and we need more supplies to continue business. I call CBS to order more toner and am told that we cannot have any more supplies under the pay-per-click contract but we can instead buy it retail. After shouting and screaming for several minutes at the girl on the phone I had no choice but to reluctantly agree to bend over and take it in the arse and have them send me the damned stuff as billable. This happened two or three times resulting in bills from Canon Business Solutions totaling around $2,400.

I was told that we shouldn't be running anything on the machine larger than 8.5x11 with no more than 5% coverage. That's 2.5% coverage on 11x17 copies!! Which raises a couple of questions:

  1. Why the fuck would you sell me a machine that's capable of printing 13x19" sheets if you only want me to print on 8.5x11? In fact, what the fuck am I supposed to do when, like in many cases, a customer wants newsletters or posters printing that are 11x17 sheets or larger?
  2. 5% coverage [of an 8.5x11 sheet] equates to just over a 2 inch solid square. That may work fine for most black and white copies which are mainly just lines of text. However, most people want color copies and they want those color copies because there are graphics such as charts, graphs and photographs. I can't recall the last color print/copy job I took in that anywhere near the ridiculous 5% coverage stipulation.
  3. None of this "5% coverage" bullshit is actually listed in the small print of the contract. In fact, there is a clause in the contract which is completely vague to say the least and says something to the effect of "you can purchase toner outside of the service agreement" and acceptable usage being "subject to determination by CBS". In other words, one day CBS can simply "determine" that acceptable coverage is 1% of a postage stamp and tough shit because you signed the contract!
  4. The "manufacturer" states that you should get 52,000 prints out of each toner cartridge (80,000 on the blacks as they are larger) based on this 5% coverage thingy -- what fucking planet did you dickheads just arrive from? There is absolutely no fucking way on this earth that you would get anywhere near that many prints from a toner even with only 5% coverage! From our calculations, it would be more like 5,000 prints maximum! Unless, of course, the "manufacturer" worked their numbers out while running the machine in what they call "toner save mode" -- which, subsequently (and we've tried this!), produces a print that not only would no client find acceptable because it is so faint, but it's really so bad that you probably wouldn't want to wipe your arse on it!

After that final order from CBS, toners did start appearing on ebay (these machines were fairly new on the scene so I guess it took a while). Ironically, we then had to start scouring ebay constantly and snapping up all the GPR-33 toners that appeared -- subsequently costing us several thousand more dollars paid to third parties. In the meantime, we were still having to pay CBS the damned click charges for every print we did, even though CBS hadn't supplied the toner under the pay-per-click contract!!

READ ON IF YOU WANT TO KNOW HOW NOT TO RUN A BUSINESS
AND,
IN THE MEANTIME, PISS OFF YOUR CLIENTS BEYOND BELIEF!

I put together a polite five page letter and sent it certified mail to CBS's president, vice-president and some other ivory tower egghead who's name I got from the BBB website. In my letter, I detailed our plight over the toner supplies and offered CBS an opportunity to keep a customer happy. After all, if I have an unhappy customer, I will bend over backwards to make things right. It's only fair that I offer CBS the same opportunity.

What the fuck were you thinking?

It's easier to retain an existing customer than it is to find a new one!
(Of course, it appears nobody seems to have let CBS know this simple fact).

In the meantime, I joined this online forum to find out if anybody else was having similar issues. Since I made that post (now several months ago), I've received several phone calls at the office from people around the country who were considering getting a Canon machine (due diligence) and wanted to know what issues I'd had. After taking great pleasure in convincing every single one of these callers to go with Xerox or someone else instead, I'm pretty sure I helped cost Canon many thousands of dollars in lost revenue. All this because of a couple of grand's worth of toner which probably cost CBS more to ship than it did to manufacture. Ha ha you silly CBS fucks! Talk about cutting your nose off to spite your face!

Of course, this is just one example of how not to run a business. One bad bit of word-of-mouth can cost a business dearly. The one thing that I'm really struggling to get my head around though, is why nobody at CBS seems to be able to see this. Naturally, it seems, the "top dogs" at CBS want to rule with an iron fist. They are Canon and are too big to care.

This is all easy to tell when you come across sites like this where, it seems, even their employees think very badly of their employers. According to most of the posts, the employees all think the pay is shite (although, to be fair, the health insurance sounds pretty good), and the nipplehead upper management nitwits can't tell their arses from their elbows. One even makes reference to Canon Business Solutions being "carried by the mothership". If you were a top dog at a company "being carried by the mothership", you probably wouldn't give a shit less what your customers think either!

Anyway, back to the five page letter...

After a month or so (I guess it takes that long for such a letter to propagate through the CBS ivory towers!), I get a phone call from someone called Donna Davis, who just happens to be Area Marketing Director or something. Apparently, she's Joe Short's boss. She arranges to come around and discuss our sorry arse situation and work something out. Great! Now we're getting somewhere!

Donna comes around, sees our operation and we start talking business. I propose to Donna that perhaps our original sales rep (Carrie Thaxton) made a boo-boo on the contract because the click charge had miraculously dropped a significant amount from what we had agreed to the point where she came in for a signature. Perhaps this would explain why Carrie suddenly disappeared without warning the day after I signed the contract? I proposed that we would be happy to pay the originally-agreed-upon click rates so long as CBS leave us the fuck alone. All we need is a new contract and we would happily pay the $2,400 or so for that extra toner as a sign of goodwill just to get things rolling.

We even expressed interest in getting another machine though I suspect they felt we were just saying that for some kind of leverage. Let's face it, if I had a dollar for every time a customer asked me for a discount based on "the piles of work they'll be sending our way in the future" I'd be a fucking trillionaire by now.

Several more visits from Donna and she finally shows up with said new contract. I look it over. It has the correct click charge rate but, to my astonishment, it is marked as "Toner Exclusive". So let me get this straight Donna... you want to charge us a higher click rate and not supply any toner whatsoever? At this point, it's clearly obvious that I must have come down with the last rainfall. Raising my objections, Donna promptly said it was a simple mistake (yeah yeah whatev!) and marked it "Toner Inclusive" with her pen before passing it back to me for a signature. Hmmm.

Now call me cynical if you wish, but I'm really getting some serious reservations about any further dealings with CBS at this time. So I then tell Donna that I need some time to mull things over. I also tell her that I need something (nothing fancy mind... just an email will do) in black and white that stipulates just how many "clicks" they'll allow us for each toner under this new contract.

Just before Donna left, she looks around the office and notices two brand new Xerox machines. She inquires about whether they are new. I tell her "why yes they are Donna, guess you guys missed out this time." That was the last I heard of Donna!

A couple of months go by and I get a call out of the blue from some lady at CBS telling me that we needed to pay this $2,400 bill immediately. Now I've met and spoken to some women that I could call "bitches" before and I can merrily announce that this one took the trophy for first place. Talk about "customer relations". This phone call was about as far as you could get from a civil chat about a disputed bill. I questioned this lady (pretty sure her name was Julie) about what happened to the thing we had going with Donna Davis? We had almost reached an agreement to where CBS gets paid the $2,400 and we get toner and, yeehaw, every single motherfucker is happy once again. That's when she told me that Donna Davis no longer worked for Canon Business Solutions! Holy crap... talk about employee and customer retention rates! I also then get told that if we don't pay this bill immediately it will go to legal. So be it.

Another month goes by and I get a phone call from some Illinois law firm called Caine and Weiner (or something like that) who are attempting to collect this $2,400 debt. I tell the paralegal that we're willing to settle at a reduced rate so long as our contract with CBS is canceled forthwith. After all, there is no way on earth that I ever want to do business with this bunch of blood sucking weasels ever again! On the face of it, it really seems like their entire universe is going to collapse if they don't get this couple of grand in their bank account within the next several hours! Maybe they've pissed off so many of their customers that they really don't have many left to feed the gravy train of the upper management echelons? Either way, I want to see the settlement agreement in writing before agreeing to anything because:

  1. I need to make sure there's no "confidentiality agreement" thereby allowing me to create whycanonsucks.com and alert the rest of world to how they're a bunch of sweaty arsewipes (God bless the first amendment to the Constitution of the United States), and;
  2. That the contract between us is canceled (no fucking way I'm going to continue paying them click charges when we've been having to buy the toner, ironically, off ebay!), and;
  3. We are not signing away our rights to sue them in the future.
The lawyer lady sends me the settlement agreement which has no such stipulations. In fact, the worst part about it is that we get one business day to consider settling it (holy shite, they really are desperate for the money!). So after a few good chuckles we all decide it's worth $1,800 or so to get rid of these penny pinching, megalomaniac gobshites once and for all and fax through the check for ACH deposit.

THE BOTTOM LINE IS...

The "expected prints per cartridge" stated by the manufacturer (Canon) are grossly exaggerated and unrealistic. After asking several times, nobody at CBS could tell me how they came to those figures or exactly where in the contract it states we should only be running 8.5x11 sheets with 5% coverage.

Had it stated in the contract that we could only run 8.5x11 sheets with 5% coverage I would never have signed it. Yet, this is the reason they used to screw us.

I know CBS do business with Fedex Kinkos. I'll bet my left bollock that CBS don't give Kinkos shit like they've given us. I'm pretty sure they pick their battles and, let's face it, it's much easier for bullies to pick on the little guys.

If you've been harmed financially by Canon Business Solutions under similar circumstances to ours, it only takes six plaintiffs to launch a CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT and I would be very happy to hear from you. Or perhaps you've been thinking about dealing with Canon Business Solutions and would like to perform some due diligence before making any purchases. You can contact me through our web site here.